Why Do I-186 Opponents Refuse to Tell the Truth?

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While there’s probably no way they could realistically hope to compete with the dishonesty of the tobacco lobby working to oppose I-185, the mining interests opposing I-186, the ballot initiative that would require all future mines in Montana to protect Montana’s waters, are doing their level worst to mislead voters before the election.

Just this week, the STOP 186 campaign released an ad claiming that passing the measure would end new mining in Montana, saying that “If Initiative 186 passes, zero future mines.”

And that’s just false. Proponents of I-186 have contacted Montana TV stations to demand the ad be pulled from the air, given broadcaster’s responsibility “to protect the public from false, misleading, or deceptive advertising.”

And they’ve got a good case. I-186 would not stop new mines in Montana, but it would prevent permitting mines that could pollute indefinitely and require water treatment in perpetuity.

As David Brooks and Tom Reed from Yes for Responsible Mining note, the proponents of I-186 absolutely believe mining has a future in Montana, and that mines operating in the state prove that mining operations can both generate revenue and be responsible environmental stewards:

The Stillwater palladium mine provides an excellent example of the kind of mine that would be allowed under I-186. The recently closed copper and silver mine at Troy provides another example. They are responsible mines that pull important minerals out of the ground without polluting. Stillwater employs hundreds of Montanans. Troy did the same.

Mayors from across the state understand this, too, pointing to states across the country that have protected their waters and mining:

Currently, Montana has no way to deny a permit to a proposed mine that will pollute our rivers with toxic waste, such as lead, arsenic, mercury and acid mine drainage. I-186, which is similar to laws passed in Maine, Michigan and New Mexico, will change this. It will prevent new hard-rock mines that threaten to permanently pollute our rivers and streams. And it will hold mining companies accountable for cleaning up after themselves.

The measure is about accountability and commonsense, two things we value in our Montana communities. I-186 won’t affect existing mines or the expansions of those mines, just any hard-rock mines proposed in the future.

If someone must lie to make his case, it can’t be a very good argument. Mining companies are spending millions of dollars on dishonest scare tactics to protect their ability to mine, inflict serious environmental damage, and leave Montanans with the bill for cleanup that could last for generations.

The Stop I-186 to Protect Miners and Jobs committee, which raised over one million dollars, almost all from mining companies, in just the reporting period between Aug 28-September 26, 2016, is engaging in a massive effort to misinform Montana voters with online and television ads designed to create the impression that mandating responsible mining practices will somehow end all mining in the state. They’re just not telling the truth.

Don’t listen to their dishonest claims. Vote for I-186 and vote to keep Montana’s real treasures, its clean waters and clear skies, safe from corporations willing to spend millions to lie to us to protect their profits at the expense of our clean waters and state coffers.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we\'d certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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